The truth is that a business isn’t a business unless they have business. A customer base is the foundation of a business’ ability to operate and function. And chances are that if you are a business owner, you have experienced a dissatisfied customer once or twice or (realistically) multiple times (all the time). Now, the key to managing these situations so as to satisfy your customer or to remedy their issue with as little damage to the relationship as possible lies in a few critical actions:
1. Quick, Efficient Responses: In customer service, the best method of responding to an issue is to respond to it with urgency, staying present to the issue at hand. This way, your customer knows they are your priority. Customers want nothing more than to know they have your attention; and the more expedited the response they receive from you, the stronger message you send that they are receiving what they desire from you. Difficult and challenging clientele tend to be more time-sensitive, so when a business responds to this sensitively and efficiently, their angst is more likely to be lessened.
2. Communication of the Process: Keeping your customers in the loop about what’s going on and holding authentic conversations with them is a powerful way to not only diminish any negative feedback you could receive from them in relation to their issue, but is also strengthens the trust they have in you as their business provider. And having a trusting relationship with you is more valuable than, well, anything, really. If your customers know that they are actively involved in the process of problem solving, they are more likely to keep retention with your business because they have a relationship with you: it’s no longer a matter of where they spend their money, but who they can trust to give them the best service possible.
3. Be open: Listening with aims to understand, rather than listening with the intent of replying is the best way to not only hear your customer out, but to gain their respect. Even if you already know what they’re going to say, allowing them to fully express their concern and then collectively creating resolution together enables a better connection between your customer and your business. It is easy to write off a customer because they are annoyed or temperamental, but being open and standing in an integral relationship adds value to your business; we all know that word of mouth is the best advertising you can have and being combative because your customer is combative is the quickest way to lose that value.
4. Remain Calm: The poet Rumi says, “Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” Now, this may not be the most pragmatic of undertakings, but there is a lot to take away from this idea. Rather than retorting to your customers’ emotions with the same ferocity as they might have, lowering your voice and speaking more slowly reflects on your customers and enables them to settle down and speak more rationally. Then, both of you can approach the situation on a calm, clear platform unaffected by any initial emotional pretense.
5. Cooperate. Rather than competing for who can be right in a customer service argument, cooperate to create resolve. If you really believe in your work, dissatisfied customers can be challenging, but in doing good work and cooperating with customers who voice issues—the work only becomes better by being versed in your customers’ reviews and feedback. As a business owner, the greatest thing you can do to strengthen your business is to strengthen the relationships you have with your customers. It’s the ultimate team building exercise- remember! You’re working WITH your customer and FOR them! Not against them! And therein lies the real value of a great business.
A final thought: Sometimes peace is often better than fighting unnecessary battles. There are customers that will often times take so much of your time and energy that it comes to a point where you must choose to cut your losses in aims to still retain value as a business. When the situation seems a stalemate, walk away. Your business will be stronger for not fighting in vain.
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